1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Alvarez, Francisco

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

ALVAREZ, FRANCISCO (c. 1465-1541 ?), Portuguese missionary and explorer, was born at Coimbra. He was a chaplain-priest and almoner to Dom Manuel, king of Portugal, and was sent in 1515 as secretary to Duarte Galvão and Rodrigo da Lima on an embassy to the negūs of Abyssinia (Lebna Dengel Dawit (David) II.). The expedition having been delayed by the way, it was not until 1520 that he reached Abyssinia, where he remained six years, returning to Lisbon in 1526-1527. In 1533 he was sent to Rome on an embassy to Pope Clement VII. The precise date of his death, like that of his birth, is unknown, but it must have been later than 1540, in which year he published at Lisbon under the king's patronage an account of his travels in one volume folio, entitled Verdadera Informaçam das terras do Preste Joam. This curious work was translated into Italian (G. B. Ramusio, Navagationi, vol. i., Venice, 1550); into Spanish (Historia de las Cosas de Etiopia, by Fray Thomas de Padilla, Antwerp, 1557); into French (Historiale Description de l'Ethiopie, Christ. Plantin, Antwerp, 1558); into German (Wahrhaftiger Bericht von . . . Ethiopien, Eisleben, 1566); into English (Sam. Purchas, Pilgrimes, part ii., London, 1625). The information it contains must, however, be received with caution, as the author is prone to exaggerate, and does not confine himself to what came within his own observation.